The story of a true to life modern day legend of a man that most men would pay dearly to be.
John P Gibson
The man whom JC knew all too well came bounding around from the other side of his brand new pale blue 1962 Ford Fairlane sedan, as he approached the young boy he could see him jumping around in obvious pain, made more obvious by the continual cursing and swearing coming forth from the boys scrunched up face as he held his arm and continued on with his well versed rant of four letter words. Apparently the boy only knew two words of the unsavory kind, fuck and shit which he used in a string of alternate repetition. Another boy of about the same age came running down a very used and worn pathway that went up and wound it's way into a small forested area, and what lay beyond was the home of JC.
JC an energetic and unwavering spry seven year old was a typical young boy in the Canadian west. Slim with blonde hair, blue eyes and a freckled nose that supported a rather too large set of eye glasses which now were perched on a precarious angle about ready to slide off his nose and fall to the ground. He was wirery but very agile with his movements, he was built for moving and the faster the better. It was summer holidays and JC and his best friend Benny Jaynes were doing what they usually did on any given day off from school, ride their bikes to some distant play area only they knew about, like the plot of hidden away property they called Beaverpots, of course nearly everyone knew of these places, but they had thought them to be secret and hold some sort of powers beyond their control. This day however played out just a little different. Benny had just received a brand new red five speed bike for his eighth birthday the day before. JC had convinced Benny to let him try his new bike down the worn and hilly trail they had both used since they were even younger boys, first walking the trail, then when they could ride, it was bikes only.
Benny was slightly older than JC by nearly a whole two months, which in kid years is a tremendous advantage. He was a little heavier than JC and had dark hair and was a little more subdued than JC. As JC jumped onto Benny's new pedal machine and started to coast down the trail towards the cross road some fifty meters further down, Benny was yelling something about how his brand new bike was different than JC's standard one speed bike. On JC's bike the braking system was fairly simple to operate, when you wanted to slow down or come to a complete stop, you would just pedal backwards to engage the braking system on the rear tire. Benny's five speed was completely different, to which JC was about to find out.
To engage the braking system on Benny's bike, one had to carefully squeeze the brake levers on either grip of the handle bars. This is what Benny was yelling to JC as he roared down the old dirt trail all the while JC was yelling back demanding how it was he was supposed to stop the now bullet like new red bike racing towards the roadway. If the lottery had been invented at this moment in time and JC had purchased a ticket, of course allowing for the fact that a seven year old was legally allowed to buy one he would have had a better chance of winning with that ticket than the odds of what happened next.
As JC and his not so trusted steed appeared at the opening of the trail to the roadway he smashed right into one of the only possible four or five cars to cruise by in any given day except for Sunday's, church day, and at least two more additional cars could be added to the four or five, this was not a Sunday. He piled right into the rear passenger door as the car motored along, which after hearing the terrible bang and yelling, the driver quickly brought the car to a stop alongside the road. The sudden decline in velocity on JC's part created a trio of broken and smashed up parts. First, the brand new Ford just purchased that day now had a dent in the rear passenger door that looked as though a tank had run into it. Second, Benny's brand new red five speed from the day before now lay beside the damaged car in a crumpled red messy heap. Third, JC was jumping up and down holding his right arm and yelling at no one inparticuler with his two word interpretation of the whole event thus far.
JC had a broken collar bone as it snapped rather easily after meeting up with one of the handlebar grips when he came to his sudden stop. Again, if JC had been allowed to purchase that lotto ticket on this fateful day he surely would have won the grand prize, the man who was driving his brand new Ford Fairlane was none other than JC's neighbor and family physician, Dr. Wilson. As the doctor checked JC out he determined the extent of his injuries, the broken right clavicle and a few scrapes on various other exposed body parts. The knees, his left arm, and a definate bruise forming on his forehead, the Doctor made a makeshift sling out of JC's T shirt and explained to him what had happened to his arm and that was the reason it would not function normally, he would need to go to the hospital for further repair work.
JC did not cry, he never did, and after Dr. Wilson had appeared from around the other side of the car, he quickly toned down the verbage streaming from his mouth, Benny also tamed his swearing down as he crouched over his crumpled new red five speed bike. Benny at least was using three words, fuck, shit, interspersed with JC. After walking the short distance back to JC's home with the help of Dr. Wilson, JC's Mother was of course very distraught after opening the front door and seeing Dr. Wilson standing there holding JC steady and his arm in a makeshift sling. She felt like giving JC heck on the one side, and cuddling and telling him everything would be alright on the other, just like she had done for most of JC's seven years whenever he got himself into a situation as his Father would always call it.
Benny warbled his broken brand new red five speed bike home whimpering and cursing under his breath at JC, Dr. Wilson returned to his broken car that for sure the body shop repairman would not believe the story when he brought it in to be fixed, and JC spent the night in the local hospital. Hospital, later in life JC thought they had meant it to be similar to that of hospitable, as he soon found out at the old age of seven, neither were even close. It was the worst night JC had spent anywhere in his short life thus far, even worse than that time Benny and him camped out at their favorite spot many miles from home on a bland and forgettable hillside. They had rolled out there sleeping bags under a sloppily built lean two of old dead branches they had found scattered about, then lit a fire with the Eddy matches they had purchased at KEN'S GROCERIES and brought along with a few bits of paper to help with the start of it.
After the fire had roared up to a satisfactory glowing and warm sized sentinel JC grabbed one of the protruding larger branch's and instantly burned the palm of his hand. There were two options, find a house nearby where they could phone their Mother's in the late of night, or tough it out till the next morning and return home as originally planned. They chose the second option and JC was in agony the entire night as his hand swelled up with a multitude of blisters and eventual loss of skin. He had again at this time used his two favorite words. But he never did cry.
The hospital was more like a penitentiary, even though JC had never been to jail, at least not for a very long time to come. It was a common area for children, the children's ward, maybe ten or twelve beds with curtains that could be drawn around them for privacy, of course this was not allowed unless their was a Dr. present doing some sort of examination. Every bed had it's own piss pot under it, why one wasn't allowed to walk down the hallway to the washroom past the nurses station was beyond JC, he did anyway, even after the nurses scolded him and warned him of the next time as to what was to happen as he passed by. He hated it, the two meals he had, consisted of warm chicken noodle soup without the chicken or noodles, and some stale bread, he was sure this was against the law, he swore he would never again spend the night in a hospital, it was true , he never again did, a prison however he managed later in life.
Who am I to be telling this strange and somewhat unbelievable story about this young boy named JC you may ask. My name is Stewart Scott, as it turns out JC's best friend even though we had not met until one week before his death on August 10th 2045 a Tuesday morning, early, almost two months before his 90th birthday. We were both the unfortunate and unlikely room mates at Silverton Heights assisted living for seniors in the wonderful Cowichan Valley, as JC had often mentioned, "It's worse than that stinking hospital I was in those many years ago, even prison." He wasn't lying, it was a typical old folks home where everything smelled like old persons urine, (for some strange reason old peoples fluids always smell different than that of a younger person, possibly because everything inside is dying) bleach, and the ever familiar smell of the 'Soup de Jour' always the same shit, a fake beefy broth with what we were told were vegetable and real meat bits, I don't believe it for a second, neither did JC.
Like I said, I never met JC just until a week before he died, he had been transferred to our quiet and morbid little collection of weird old people from a rather liesurly prison institution in Victoria, BC about a forty minute drive from the 'Silverton Heights Death House' as JC referred to it on Vancouver Island in the beautiful country of Canada. JC had only been in the prison for less than a month, a place he said was considerably better than the hospital stay he had as a young boy, and here at the old folks home, he was transferred here because of his failing health and old age. How he managed to get himself into prison at the age of 89, I will get to in a while. First let me catch you up on the life and times of a truly remarkable legend. If I had heard it from anyone else I surely would not have believed a word of it, but after getting to know JC, and afterwards doing some investigation on my own, I found every word of it to be true . Not only true , but rather exciting. It certainly kept the old farts here on the edge of their recliners and wheel chairs.
I could go back further than the bike and camping incident's with just as crazy and spectacular stories, but mostly up till that point JC had lived a rather normal life as an only child with two loving parents. He had told me that even if he had had siblings, he still would have considered himself an only child as he pretty much did what ever he wanted and many times on his own when Benny wasn't about. Life for JC was different in the fact that his Father had always let him try things out for himself, a possible dangerous but quick way to learn about life on this crazy planet, but it seemed to work for JC. He had even told me the story of how his Father had taught him to swim when he was only four years of age by putting him into an old empty potato sack, tying up the open end and then throwing the sack and JC into the lake off a wharf.
His father figured if JC could get out of the potato sack and make it back to shore without too many traumas, he would then know how to swim, and also get out of tied up potato sacks. To his dying day JC was never afraid of the water, but could pass on potato's anytime they were served. I'm not too sure about that story, but judging by the rest that I know are completely true , I'll hold my judgement on this one. There was also the time his father was teaching him how to snow ski. It was one very cold and snowy winter and JC's father thought to fasten a couple of carved wooden ski's to JC's winter boots, explain a couple of rudimentary skills needed for stopping when the speed was too excessive, then a gentle shove done the moderate slope. His first time on ski's and JC made it to the bottom of that hill without any mishaps, his father figured he now knew how to snow ski as well as swim.
JC's life through most of the year when he was younger always consisted of attending Alexander Elementary school, only because he was told he had to, not because he wanted to. To him it was only a place where he could meet up with friends and plan activities for after school and the weekends. He was now in grade two and thought he had a pretty good handle on how it all worked. He of course had learned the hard way when he arrived the very first day in grade one when during the first recess, on the first day, he decided to throw a large rock at one of the other students, who of course went running and crying back into the school to tell the teacher what had just happened. JC's Mother was involved and he was reprimanded and given some extra chores to do during his lunch break at school and at home, and of course had to apologize to the young boy he threw the stone at. It would not be the last time his Mother would have to come to his aid at school.
JC was for the most part an average student when it came to the academics of the teaching at his school. He never saw the importance of it when there were far more interesting things to do outside of those institution's walls and long rows of window's and desk's. JC for the most part would rebel against most all of the weird institution's created by man. JC for all of his disruption in class managed to make it all the way to grade eight without having to repeat any years, that would change now that he was with the big kids here at Junior High, Quamichan Junior High school right next to his elementary school. Of course most of the older students were larger than JC, not so much taller as JC had acquired a very fast growth spurt that year, must have been the newly invented Kraft Dinner now on the market.
JC made friends quickly at his new school and soon rose to the top of the proverbial high school evolutionary ladder. He even ran for student council as many of his friends had convinced him he would be the right man for the job, this would be his first experience with politics, and not his last by a long shot. Eighth graders were of course the ones continually picked on by the older students, it was a right of passage, JC was however one of the lucky few after he had single handed avoided the brutal beating of more than four big dumb thugs from the remedial class where as JC referred to it as the 'Dumb Ass Club'. A group of boys with IQ's of fence posts and the looks to match. He shouldn't have been so tough on them as most of them came from poor and uneducated parents.
His means of avoidance were to turn and high tail it out of there as fast as he could, and JC was fast, the fastest kid in town. He had found this out one day when playing with his cousin in the forest nearby his home when they both disturbed a hornets nest, JC did not get stung once as he was so fast, his cousin on the other hand did not fair so well. Speed and agility would be JC's strength when it came to many challenges that would present themselves over the years.
Speed, this was certainly JC's biggest asset. As a young boy his parents had enrolled him in a multitude of sports to try and quell his thirst for action, fast action. Soccer was the first sport, along with snow skiing. The snow skiing because his parents enjoyed it, the soccer because he just plain loved to run. Other's followed, rugby, baseball, basketball, track and field, and his favorite..Karate. His Karate instructor saw in JC mountains of potential and he was right. JC managed to get his first degree black belt by the age of 13. He always knew he could devastate his perpetrators anytime using the powerful force of karate, but his instructor had always instilled in him the humbleness of backing away from any confrontations with the use of well expressed verbal retaliation, or running in the opposite direction very fast.
JC had dropped many of the sports he had become so good at for the newest of his interests..the gun club where his Father had enrolled him so as he could understand the mechanics of firearms and how to use them safely. It seemed JC was drawn to this pass time and of course picked up on the how to's very fast. His first year at high school proved to be considerably tougher for him academically than he ever imagined, he flunked his first year at junior high and now had to repeat grade eight. He was humiliated and felt so low, but not as low as he was about to feel. In the early part of the next school year JC's parents had taken a small trip to a lodge they went to on their wedding anniversary date. It was late October, just after JC's 14th birthday, it was unusually cold for this time of the year and the first snowfall threatened with the low and ominous clouds above, the hounds of winter were approaching.
It was labeled as an accident, something out of the control of the driver of the late model Chevrolet, the newspaper had stated in a two paragraph report with a black and white picture of the mangled car overturned in a small ravine close to where the lodge was that JC's parents were on their way to. Both of his parent's were killed instantly on impact the story continued, it was in all likelihood due to black ice on the asphalt winding road. It was a shock to all in town especially the friends of his parents that JC was staying with while they were on their trip, JC was harder to read about the entire incident, he showed little emotion as the days and weeks passed.
Being 14 years of age, it was recommended that JC live with relatives close by in a town called Dempsen Lk. This arrangement would not last long however, JC was a free spirit and now with no immediate family to look after him, he found himself even freer. With his friends he managed to couchsurf for awhile, it was mostly partying and getting into the drug scene, even if it was only a little marijuana. Booze also became a favorite, and smoking of cigarettes of course. JC figured why the hell not, who would blame him, after all he had just lost his parents in a terrible auto crash.
Sex, was now the number one topic on all of his friends agenda's, the boys especially. JC had never had sex yet, a couple of his closer friends including Benny said they had, JC was not so sure they were telling the truth, after all it did involve the one element that boys just hated to do at that age...talk to girls. It was at a party on a Saturday night with lots of friends and of course there were the token number of girls there to dance with and try and impress with male machismo and silly antics.
One of the girls apparently found this to be charming on JC's behalf and took him into one of the spare rooms downstairs. It was clumsy, strange, and quick, but JC had finally lost his virginity. He did not remember how the sequence went exactly, only that he very much liked it and this one thing would from now on consume most of his time in the attracting of the opposite sex for this soul purpose. Gone were the days of marbles at the back of the school yard, tiddly winks, and street hockey.
JC had now grown his dirty blonde hair till it settled on his broadening shoulders and had exchanged the large clunky eye glasses for something lighter and more hippy like, his friends called them granny glasses as they were the type that most old people wear. As soon as he could possibly arrange it, he had told himself he would get contact lenses, he hated wearing glasses, especially when he and his friends were involved with any sporting activity. One of his favorite hobbies was still Karate, he maintained his weekly training's along with constant reading on the subject of guns and now knives, hunting knives in particular.
Knowing more than enough about knives came in handy when fishing with his friends in the nearby lake, mostly trout with the odd bass thrown in. JC became very proficient with the use of his knives, he could even throw them at trees and have them hit targets as small as a quarter, never missing. This would later on come in handy when he took up the game of darts. With the continual hunting for prospective one night stands with almost any girl that would oblige, and the copious amounts of pot, cheap liquor, and cigarettes..JC was speeding towards maturity in leaps and bounds enjoying every minute of it. Of course his studies at school had dropped right off the scale, it was his second year in grade eight and it did not look good for a passing grade once again.
It was November and JC had buddied up with a fellow classmate who was also disinterested in the scholarly confines of the of Quamichan Junior High. His name was Dale, Dale Richmond, a boy of similar stature and same colored hair as JC but shorter. They mostly got along because of the girls, drugs, and booze they were so much enjoying as young teenagers. It was Dale's idea sometime in late October to make a move to the wide open spaces of Alberta, the reason? To find work and make some real money. So off they went, by train from the coast of BC through to Edmonton and from there hitching to a small town some one hundred and fifty miles North called Whitecourt, one could only assume it had been named for the almost continuous cover of snow throughout the year.
Now at the ripe old age of fifteen, JC and his buddy were now the two newest additions to a very real back country town. With JC's long blonde hair it was soon found out that maybe...just maybe this had not been such a good idea after all. The town was small and was nestled in a low lying area with a few private homes and a school along the upper side. JC was and had always been a personable boy, he would have to use this part of his arsenal to get through this winter in a town where most were not willing to accommodate a young hippy. JC knew this, as his first impression of Whitecourt, and that of Alberta would be seared indelibly onto his mind when he and Dale showed up late on their first night in town at Dale's older sister's home where he had assured JC they could crash for a couple of weeks. She had answered the door and opened it wide to find her estranged much younger brother standing there with suitcase in hand and a hippie friend with his duffel bag both needing a place to stay...she refused right out flat, no way. If they wanted to stay, there was a hotel in the middle of town, good luck.
Luckily for both JC and Dale, it was a short jaunt downhill into the heart of town, they had had a couple of pick-up trucks honk at them and one even made an attempt to swerve at them. It came within inch's of contacting them both and as the truck sped off they could both hear the laughter streaming from the slightly open side windows of the truck, obviously for their benefit. When they had reached the hotel downtown, it appeared as though it could have been abandoned and left derelict, there were no apparent lights on and JC and Dale felt a pit in their stomach as they approached the front double wide main wooden doors.
They both looked at each other and wondered where, if anyplace they could crash for the night. It would have to be warm, as the temperature outside was creeping down the farenheit scale to about 20 degrees, they would certainly freeze to death if forced to try and sleep outside. JC tried pushing a button beside one of the doors, there was a faint ringing heard in through the interior somewhere. Dale figured it was not likely anyone would answer at this time of the night..it was now after one am. Just as JC and Dale were about to turn and leave, (to where they had no idea) A light came on inside behind the doors, then heard the familiar turning of keys in an old style locking system. The door opened slowly, an old man of short stature stood there, he was definitely an odd one and he was accessorized with an assortment of weird and unfamiliar items hanging around his neck on a long cord so that the bunched up items collected together at the bottom of which hung right where the front of his crotch was, or at least should have been if this thing standing in front of JC was human, it was like a scene out of a Frankenstein movie.
The little old man wore eyeglasses that made the bottom of Coke bottles look thin in comparison, they reminded JC of his not too long ago. With a wrinkled up well used large nose that they sat upon, JC could only think that this had to be the ugliest man he had ever laid his eyes upon. He could not reason the enormity of the eye glasses and why, the man had only one eye. Long greasy blondish, brown, and grey thinning hair made an attempt to cover more than a few bald spots to make him look like an old dog with mange. The old guy only stood about four feet tall if an inch and the affects of pour diet registered in the extreme bow leggedness of rickets. "What can I do for you boys?" He mumbled out of a mouth with few teeth and a bad case of halitosis, and the few teeth he did support were as brown as the liver spots that covered his face. If JC had ever had a twinge of fear in his life, this would have been the moment.
After the boys explained their predicament, they were told there was only one room available as it was a Saturday night, the busiest night of the week. JC thought this strange as this was a small town with only one bar, and one cinema, how busy could this town get? The old man tried to rip them both off by charging more than the nightly rate and after a few protests, the boys won out and managed to secure the room for ten dollars for the night, for the two of them. It was a more than small enough room with two cots along two walls and a small dresser against the third. It wasn't the smallest room JC had ever seen, but it was close. Once the door had been closed behind the both of them there was hardly room to turn around and one of them would have to climb over the other to get to the door to get himself to the washroom down the hall. Either one of them would rather have spent the night outside if the temperature had managed a balmy forty degrees.
The rest of the night would prove to be pointless in the area of getting some well deserved sleep. As soon as JC and Dale had the lights out there was a terrifying scream from just down the hallway, then some more than flamboyant language from the assumed male counter part. JC immediately jumped from his cot, turned on the lights, and made sure the dead bolt was secure. They both looked at each other, Dale was in a fit of shock and looked about ready to let out a blood curdling scream like the one he had heard, JC was shaken but still calm, his Karate training had primed him for just such things. JC had thoughtfully brought along one of his many knives, this one just happened to fit in a homemade sheath that strapped to his lower leg and was concealed by his brown leather cowboy boots, he grabbed it and placed it beneath his pillow then again turned the lights off.
The next day they both made a hasty retreat, the night spent in the dingy, moldy smelling broom closet had probably been the worst night JC had spent in his entire life, second to the night he stayed at the hospital. Dale went off to his sister's place as they had made up somewhat, but it was clear that JC would not be welcome and so JC was out on the street like one of the few bums there were here in Whitecourt because of the weather. He was not afraid of the street, it was just the biting cold he was not used to, the coldest it would get would be below minus forty, the locals often said that it sounded colder than it actually was, as it was what they referred to as a dry cold, some comfort this was to JC as he wandered the streets in search of a warm spot.
JC did however get lucky through a friend of a friend of someone he had just met and was taken to a house where he was introduced to a much older fellow who seemed pleasant enough. The man named Paul, only Paul and no last name offered some floor space in a side bedroom of a small house. He was told there would be three others who shared the house, JC of course accepted as he looked out the living room window of the house at the fluffy bits of snow descending from the cloud covered sky above. It would turn out to be quite the party house as many people came over on almost every night, no problem for JC as he figured parties were a good thing and there was always plenty of booze and pot, but never any sign of Paul, he lived in another house across town.
To be continued in novel form soon.